The Rose Theater has embarked on explorations of new dimensions, filling its stage and screens with phenomenally imaginative visions and designs. Brittany Merenda has come up with them to aid in replicating Madeleine L’Engle’s science fiction adventure for young people A Wrinkle in Time, adapted by playwright John Glore. The visuals remain constantly colorful, even beautiful at times.
The cast plays every moment with earnest conviction and skill, but talk, not obvious action. dominates what happens in these marvelous settings. Youthful audiences who come unprepared for what the story tells may find themselves as lost in space as are the characters, even though exposition and explanation dominate the dialogue.
You might want to learn the story to better understand what’s happening, should you attend or accompany a child. It seems complicated. Three young people take on the challenge of trying to find Meg and Charlie Murry’s disappeared father and bring him back home. The siblings and a high- school-age friend, Charlie Wallace, encounter three friendly rather alien individuals in a nearby haunted house. They are Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who and Mrs. Which. Bear in mind, though, adding to potential confusion, Mrs. Which is portrayed as a man by a man. Despite their names, however, they don’t come across as comic. Those extraterrestrials offer to help the search by means of a tesseract, a four-dimensional analog of a cube according to Wikipedia. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tesseract). Here it becomes a fold, a wrinkle in time and space through which to travel.
From here on things seem rather simple, although prolonged. While the three Mrs narrate and endeavor to explain what’s happening, the kids travel into and out of strange territories until landing in the dystopian society of Camazotz. Suggesting perhaps “comatose” given that it contains a passive populace. Evil IT controls the territory. Charlie is forced to channel IT, losing her charming, hyper-aware personality. Mr. Murry is found and rescued by the force of love.
These developments come portrayed by projections amid which the children walk up and down stairs on platforms. Sometimes they scream in pain when IT wields its might. Sometimes they lie down and sleep. Mostly, though, they talk.
Chloe Irwin, as a girl version of Meg’s brother Charlie, comes across with a totally polished professional-quality performance. And Justice Jamal Jones makes Charlie genuinely appealing. The rest of the cast remains sincere and convincing. Everyone, though, has a tendency to unnecessarily shout into the body microphones. This has become a fairly standard practice at The Rose, as if prompted by the vastness of the magnificent hall wherein they perform. The hall’s historical natural acoustics don’t need that.
John Glore’s script relies on words, but the essence of the story relies more on the reader’s imagination. As a movie, CGIs could make it vivid. But, at the core, it needs actors and a script able to convey the essence of Evil, or Good, or Love in ways much more complex and extended than this. Not an easy assignment.
You can learn more about the playwright at: http://www.scr.org/press-room/press-photos/press–12-13-season/press–the-night-fairy. About L’Engle: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Madeleine_L’Engle
In a news release, director Kit McKay endeavors to explain what’s within and behind L’Engle’s concept. He says that the story shows “how the small things we do are connected to a larger universe and the choices we make sometimes have epic consequences….Evil lurks in mysterious packages….Each one of us has a battle within ourselves between good and evil and the results of that battle can change everything.” Worthy thoughts. Perhaps if you carry them with you to a performance, you can read between the lines and come away inspired, even if none of those ideas seem evident amid the amazing effects in that remarkable setting.
A Wrinkle in Time continues through Nov. 16. The Rose Theater, 2001 Farnam St. Fri: 7 p.m. Sat: 2 & 5 p.m. Sun: 2 p.m. Tickets: $18. http://www.rosetheater.org